tasty nom nom an exception to the daily meal


All mixed up

Dear J - sorry for taking so long, the pets have been keeping me busy, plus I am trying to take advantage of the longer days to get more done Outside.

It was warm on a few Saturdays ago, not like yesterday. Tempted by this recipe picture, I decided to make a cool dish for dinner. And I'd thought we should take a break from cooking with fire.

I stopped by Uwajimaya on my way on home on Friday to pick up ingredients. I saw frozen soba, which I have never had before. Like you, I have no qualms about serving a new dish (or ingredients in this case) to dinner people. I picked up some pea shoots, nori, shiso leaves, and lemongrass tofu.  As I munch on the Korean Sushi on my way home, I kicked myself for not picking up some unnaturally color pickles - takuan. So on Saturday, I ran out to the Korean market and found some, and took the opportunity to pick up some enoki mushrooms also.


After some simple chopping prep, I boiled some water to heat the noodles and assembled. I cautiously portion the ingredients and had a backup plan of store bought pot stickers, in case everything goes wrong.

I am not sure how I feel about the frozen soba. It heated quickly and I immediately dunked the noodles in cool water. The texture still felt a little mushy to me. I was expecting a more chewy consistency. The store bought lemongrass tofu was a hit, of course. Fried tofu is one of my favorite things.

After dinner, we, I, someone picked Modern Art.

Modern Art, a close game. #gamenightwhich artist will make it big?

Your are correct that I did talk up this game. I like the concept, like real life modern art, you never know whose work will be a hit. However, I am terrible on auction games. I am very cautious and rarely able to do the quick math to calculate and anticipate the value 'correctly'. G won that game, by a small margin. I was closer than I thought I would be. Progress on auction game for me, maybe.

After Modern Art, we did a quick turn with our ol'favorite Bean Game.  Oh, here is a Board Games with Scott Thurns and Taxis video on YouTube. Maybe we will try that game soon.


Trial By Fire


It's never a good sign when dinner ends up looking like this:


A few weeks ago N suggested we use the Egg and wood-fire pizza for dinner. I didn't have enough time to make my favorite pizza dough, so I delayed that menu plan until this weekend.

N and I have different philosophies on game night dinners. I have no qualms about trying something for the first time. N typically would prefer to do a trial run in advance. This time we didn't bother with a trial. In retrospect, I wish we had!

pizza mosaic
dough & pizza-fail

N managed to heat the Egg up beyond the thermometer's max of 800°F. I guess it was close to 1000°F. Insane.

trick pizza
trick pizza

The problem with the pizza cooking was many-fold. In the end it ended up that there needed to be an air gap between the burning wood and the ceramic that the pizza is cooked on. Without that gap, the bottom crust of the pizza simply burnt almost immediately. The taste of charred, melted cornmeal and creosote is not a good one! This video at Big Green Egg explains how they set up the Egg for making pizza.

A couple of days after this fire-eating dinner fail N and I tried the BGE method for pizza. It was much more successful. The pizza was actually edible and the bottom of the crust was not a big sheet of firey black!

Another, more successful, trial from this evening was flammkuchen. N and I were in Munich a few years ago and had a meal at a fischmarkt. I had herring while N had something that looked like a pizza. I later found out it was flammkuchen (also known as tarte flambée). It's from the Alsace region and is traditionally a very thin flatbread topped with quark (or crème fraîche), thin-sliced onions, and speck (lardo). Whole Foods carry quark and speck (their speck is actually prosciutto though), so I was able to make a flammkuchen-like. It was the only bright spot of the meal for me! I'll definitely make it again.

flammkuchen, uncooked

After we suffered through embarrassment and creosote mouth, we ducked out to our weekly haunt in Duvall for some edible food. After that, we returned home for a quick game.

N tried to talk us into Bohnanza, but it was vetoed in favor of Uno. Oh no.

j gives E a lot of points

You win! I admit, I am totally sick of Uno and I wish we'd played Bohnanza.

See you later! Hope your burn-taste-mouth has faded.

* Favorite pizza dough is from Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice, Pizza Napoletana. The dough comes together quickly, has an extended fermentation (I find it has best taste after a couple of days of fermentation), and is very easy to work with. It also freezes great. Highly recommended.


Play it safe

Sometime earlier this week, I suggested to G that we should do burgers. I was looking for a safe grilling choice - simple and reliable.  I did not want a repeat of the burnt ribs. And to dress up a homey burger meal, some gravlax appetizer and a Manhattan (served in 'wrong' glass.)

DSC_2533taste test, to make sure it is tasty before serving to dinner people

For the gravlax, I used a beautiful Copper River Salmon from Uwajimaya, pulled out the pin bones. Then sandwiched a blend of sea salt, sugar, coriander, black pepper, and a giant bunch of dill between two fillets. Poured in a generous cup of tequila. I changed up the usual vodka with the silver tequila that was still sitting on the counter from the strawberry margarita.  Let sit in fridge under heavy weight, flipped twice a day for a few days.  I would have prefer to serve gravlax with crispy golden potato pancake, but settled for straight-from-package pumpkinnickel and some crème fraîche.

UntitledHi pickles

G grilled the burgers, and we served it with iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, onion, dill pickles, mayo, and A1. I tossed a simple salad and some store-bought potato salad rounded out a simple plate.

After dinner and much chatter about nail polish. We settled down for a game of Acquire.

Untitleda game of luck with some skills

I spent all my monies early and was worried how the game with turn out for me. I definitely think being the only shareholder of a hotel that was acquired definitely helped.

It was a safe food evening. We like experimenting, but sometimes we just want to play it safe.


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Grilling Nostalgia

Good afternoon, E!

For Memorial Day last weekend, we grilled. Of course!

N picked up a combination of sausages at Bill the Butcher and Whole Foods. Seven different types of sausage, peppers and onions. The blueberry brats were surprisingly tasty, if a little strange. There was a habanero sausage that I think was my favorite.

To go along with the tube meat, I made the spinach salad that you implied you wanted again. I made it slightly different from last time, using honey almonds instead of the Sahale pecans. Baby spinach, onions, goat cheese, and honey almonds with Girard's Light Champagne dressing. I love that dressing and can't make anything remotely resembling it. Any ideas?

spinach salad

Along with the green salad, I made a vinaigrette based potato salad from a recipe from Bon Appétit, Fingerling Potato Salad with Sherry-Mustard Vinaigrette.

dinner plate

This potato salad is a lot better warm than cool or room temperature. I added a lot more Italian parsley and a bit more tarragon than the recipe calls for because I love fresh herbs in potato salad. This recipe is a keeper.

I did bake the potatoes on the sheet of salt. I am not sure it did anything special for the potatoes - I am sure baking them my usual way would have been fine.

You managed to impressively fill your plate!

A month or two ago, I was reading a thread about various so-called disgusting fruit salads. One of the ones mentioned was Watergate Salad. I read the description and suddenly I knew it was the salad I grew up loving as a kid. Someone (I believe one of my aunts) always brought it to the family picnics. I decided that I would make it at some point over the summer. If we hated it, we could throw it away or send it to work with N.

Memorial day? Sounded like the perfect time to make it.

watergate salad
watergate salad

I used some sort of fancy no-high-fructose-corn-syrup, no-gluten fake-cool-whip (truwhip?) and mixed in a box of jello pistachio pudding mix. To that I added drained crushed pineapple (recipe says NOT to drain it, but I did), a bunch of mini marshmallows, crushed pecans, and coconut (not in the recipe). I also added a few mandarin oranges but in my stirring they fell apart. I think they might be best to add at serve time. I am fairly certain my aunt used to add the oranges but not the coconut.

I forgot how the marshmallows sort of melt into the whipped topping and don't stay hard. I still love the (fake!) pistachio flavor and the crunch of the pistachio and pecan bits. I still like it, though I can probably go another 20 years before having it again.

After dessert and some chatting, we just pulled out the Uno decks and played to 500 points.

all the wilds!

G gave up a lot of points in this round! Ha. N won this game according to my handy-dandy uno.xlsx spreadsheet.

'Til next time!